A History of Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church

The year 1946 was one of returning World War II veterans, growing families, and full churches.  These crowded conditions also existed in the First and Second Christian Reformed Churches of Denver, so their members ultimately recognized that forming another church would most effectively serve the needs of the Denver CRC community.  Therefore, on December 2, 1951, the two councils met at the First Christian Reformed Church and decided to proceed with plans to organize a third Christian Reformed Church in Denver.

The inaugural worship service was held in August 1952 at the Denver Christian High School on the corner of South Pearl and East Evans.  Then on September 19, 1952, a committee of Classis Rocky Mountain formally organized the Third Christian Reformed Church with 81 charter families.

The Denver Christian High School library was soon outgrown as the place for Sunday worship services, so the Denver Christian gym at East Florida Avenue and South Clarkson Street became the next worship place.  That was followed by an even larger space at Grant Junior High School on South Washington Street as the membership grew.

The land for the church and parsonage was purchased in February 1953.  The construction of the parsonage was begun shortly after, and volunteer charter members primarily did the work for that.  Construction of the church building began in 1954 and was completed and dedicated in June 1955.  Rev. John Zwaanstra accepted the call to be the first pastor of Third Church and arrived in January 1953.  He served as our pastor until 1964.

Rev. Kermit Rietema became our pastor in 1964, and he served until 1971.  In 1964 the church’s mission outreach began the inner city mission project at Sun Valley.  The group met in the Bestway Disposal’s building until after the flood of 1965.  A church and later a parsonage were constructed at Decatur and West Holden Place (near Federal Boulevard and Sixth Avenue), in the heart of the Sun Valley neighborhood.

Then, in 1972, Rev. James R. Kok moved his family of eight to Denver and served Third CRC until 1991.  During this time (1974) Ron Nydam joined the staff, first as an intern, and later as the youth pastor.  Rev. Kok and Ron formed the first team ministry at Third CRC.

As the ministry grew there was a need to accommodate more people.  The sanctuary was remodeled in 1977, and a balcony was added to seat more people.  An educational wing was also constructed to increase the number of classrooms for the church programs.  Pastor Nydam served Third CRC until 1984. At that time, he took a sabbatical to become a certified counselor, and then began Pastoral Counseling of Denver, which continues to this day as an agency for Christian counseling in the Denver community.

Wendell Meyer became our associate pastor in 1984 and served until 1988.  In that year an organized group of Cambodians formed a church and began worshipping, first in the Sun Valley church building, and later in their own facility.  That church building was located in Aurora on Helena Street which is near the junction of I-70 and I-225.  Rev. John Kim became the pastor for the Khmer Church in 1986 and has continued until the present.  The Helena St. church building was sold in December 2017, and the congregation now continues to meet in a rented facility in that same area.

Shortly after the departure of the Meyers (1988), Rev. Thomas Draayer was called to co-pastor with Rev. Kok, as Tom had served as an intern prior to that time.  When Rev. Kok left to become the interim pastor in Central California, Rev. Tom Draayer became the senior pastor and served until 2011.

David DeRidder was called in 1991 to become the Pastor of Discipleship and Youth.  Dave was ordained in 2010 and served as the Minister of Congregational Life until December 2016.  During his time at Third Church he led many Mexico mission teams–more than 40—both adult and youth teams.

In the 90’s more than one-third of the congregation was over the age of 50, and an elevator was needed.  In October of 2001 construction began.  It has served the elderly in our congregation very well since then.

A Ministries Coordinator position was added to the staff in 1999.  Marjorie Youngsma Zwaanstra was the first to serve in this capacity and served for five years.  Kelly Herrema followed her in this position in 2005, and continued until mid-2016.  Kim Werning, who also served as Business Manager, filled this position from October 2016 – July 2018.

Rev. Samuel Perry was called to be the Pastor of Worship in 2007, and he served until 2012.  Shortly after his departure, the remodeling of the sanctuary began—this time the renovation was to the front of the sanctuary.  Carpeting was added to the entire sanctuary at that time.

As the Search Committee worked to find a suitable pastor candidate, Rev. Neal Rylaarsdam was called to be interim pastor for a ten-month period.  During that time (2012-2013), four part-time positions were initiated: Worship Planner, Director of Children’s Ministries (2), and Director of Youth Ministries.  These then became part of the overall ministry of Third Church.

Rev. Rob Knol served as Senior Pastor/Minister of Worship from December 2013 – October 2018.  When Dave DeRidder retired at the end of 2016, after 25 years at Third, a new Pastor of Congregational Life, Rev. Michelle VanDenBerg, accepted the Pastoral position in August 2017.

In October 2019, Interim Pastor Dominic Palacios joined the staff team to work alongside Pastor Michelle during a time of pastoral transition at the church.

Since 1974 we have had the opportunity to be served by many seminary interns.  Among those who have served are Ron Nydam, Mike Van Hofwegen, Doug MacLeod, Tom Draayer, Jim Van Tholen, Tim Van Zalen, Dean Kladder and Jon Stoddard.  Al DeVries served the church for a time in a coffee shop ministry.  The church has also helped sponsor, develop and support the following churches:  Sun Valley in Denver, Emmanuel in Salt Lake City, Khmer Church in Denver, Crestview in Boulder, Eastern Hills in Aurora, New Life in Houston, Sunshine Community in San Antonio, and Cascade of Hope in Denver.

After faithfully serving the people of its congregation and community as Third CRC for 67 years, the church’s name was changed to HOPE FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH in 2017.

Updated October 2020